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Asian Categorical Newspaper — Younger Achiever urges others to ‘grasp the chance’

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The overall winner of last year’s Yorkshire Asian Young Achievers Awards – the YAYAs – is flying high and now she’s urging others to seize the opportunity.

Since winning the Young Achiever of the Year 2021 title, along with the public sector category, NHS worker, Huma Malik, has soared from strength to strength.

The 27-year-old, from Bradford, has become a trustee of the charity, the Mental Health Foundation, since last year’s awards and is also making positive progress within her professional career working as an engagement officer for NHS Leeds CCG to support patient voice in service change.

“It felt very surreal. It was lovely just to be recognised – not that it feels like I have done anything extra special to be recognised,” says Huma, humbly.

“But it is nice to be recognised. My family, friends and work colleagues are all really proud. They were absolutely over the moon and really supportive.”

Despite Huma’s long term health conditions, and attending hospital appointments for blood transfusions and treatments, she still finds the time to volunteer for the benefit of others.

During the pandemic, Huma volunteered virtually with Leaders Unlocked, promoting youth voice in health and mental health for young people.

Through her involvement with Leaders Unlocked, Huma became involved with the Mental Health Foundation and was appointed a trustee of the charity in March this year.

Huma has also worked for the charity Barnado’s delivering a wellness recovery action planning group to support young people with their mental health, and she runs the social enterprise, Music Talkz, providing workshops tackling mental health amongst young people.

Now she is encouraging others to get involved after entries recently opened for the third annual Yorkshire Asian Young Achiever Awards.

“It’s important. If you think you want to go for it, then go for it,” encourages Huma.

“Sometimes we don’t talk about our own successes and achievements, we tend to shy away from them, it’s how we are, but if you get the opportunity it can help you with your future career; it helps you when you go for an interview – it’s about sharing your success.

“Don’t let the opportunity pass,” adds Huma.

The awards are open to any young person – aged 16 to 30 – of South Asian heritage (Pakistani, Indian, Bangladeshi etc) who was born in, or lives and works in, Yorkshire.

Aimed at rising stars who have overcome deprivation and disadvantage, or have broken down traditional barriers to progress, the YAYAs attracted scores of entries last year and highlighted many outstanding achievers.

Last year’s winners also included actor, Aqib Khan, who played Sajid in ‘West is West’ and is in the BBC One Comedy, Ladhood; Jasmin Akter, who won the Sport category, and medical student Badr Basharat.

Leeds blogger Sonia Hunjan was recognised for starting ‘The Blind Reader’ after being diagnosed with the serious degenerative eye condition, retinitis pigmentosa; Wakefield children’s nurse, Yasmin Khanagha’s award acknowledged her work in healthcare; STEM mentor Ruhee Dawood from York was also a winner along with Rotherham’s Saif Din, who opened a community boxing and fitness gym to encourage boys off the streets and provide a safe place for them to train, and Sheffield broadcaster, Sivapriya Thirugnanarajah, who was recognised for volunteering as a technical assistant and a radio jockey for the British Indian online community radio.

Keighley winners included entrepreneur Sabreen Ahsan, who launched a digital marketing agency and works with BAME creative entrepreneurs, and Jagjit Singh Chaggar who has never let Ankylosing Spondylitis, a disease affecting his back and leg movement, hold him back.

The YAYAS are organised by the Bradford-based QED Foundation, a registered charity which exists to improve the social and economic position of disadvantaged communities in partnership with public, private and civil society organisations, along with their headline partners, York St John University.

Dr Mohammed Ali OBE, Chief Executive of QED, said: “Of Yorkshire’s more than 600,000 BME residents, the vast majority are of South Asian origin. Sadly, they continue to struggle to overcome disadvantages in making their way in the world, be that in education, employment or social mobility generally.

“They need role models – people who have broken through the barriers and overcome the challenges – and we know there are many dynamic, hard-working young people achieving great things across the whole county.

“So these awards are designed to celebrate their achievements and efforts and help others by highlighting their successes and showing them just what can be achieved.

“The standard of entries last year was truly remarkable. We had humbling and life-affirming stories of people overcoming the odds to carve their way in life and we feel enormously proud of all those who entered. They were all truly inspirational.”

Rob Hickey, Chief Operating Officer at York St John University, said: “The first two years of the YAYAs were hugely successful in highlighting examples of personal endeavour, selfless determination and breaking barriers; qualities we value and aspire to. York St John University is proud to recognise the achievements of Yorkshire’s young Asians by supporting the awards once again.”

Professor Karen Bryan, Vice Chancellor of York St John University, said: “We celebrate diversity and take pride in our dedication to providing equal opportunity to students from all backgrounds. That is why we are so proud to support the YAYAs and celebrate these incredible stories of achievement and inspiration.”

The awards are in 11 categories – for Achievement in School or College; Health/Mental Health and Healthcare; The Arts and Creative Industries; the Private Sector; Media; Education; the Public Sector; the Not-for-Profit Sector; Achievement as a Young Entrepreneur; Sport; and Achievement in Overcoming Life Obstacles – and an overall Young Achiever of the Year is chosen from among the individual award winners.

Details of how to enter the YAYAs can be found at: theyayas.org.uk or via: qed-uk.org. The closing date for nominations is Friday, July 15, 2022. They will be presented at a gala dinner at the Cedar Court Hotel, Bradford, on November 11, hosted by BBC TV and Radio presenter and stand-up comedian, Noreen Khan.

York St John University is the primary sponsor of the YAYAs. Sponsors and supporters of the awards include: Morrisons, The National Science & Media Museum, Barnado’s, the Home Office, the University of Bradford, Bradford Council, Language Cert, the University of York, Regal, LOCALiQ, My Lahore, Exa Networks, Leeds City Council, Cedar Court Hotels, and Banner.

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